4 Ways to Avoid Workout Injuries
The dreaded swimsuit season, shorts season, tank top season, every-part-of-your-body-that-isn’t-fit-but-will-be-exposed-outfit season is upon us. I know, it was winter and hibernation felt glorious. You enjoyed an extra slice of cake at a birthday party and indulged in a few too many extra Easter basket candies. But now the warmer weather has arrived and you feel the pressure to push yourself a little harder than you should to make up for all that extra time you took off.
Then it happens. You are lifting your weights, dreaming of looking good in your swimsuit, when you feel a pain shoot through your back. Or maybe it’s an ankle. Or maybe a wrist. Suddenly, what seemed like the mad dash to a fitter body just got curved balled by an injury. That injury may even be severe enough to put you out of workouts for a few weeks. That’s a couple of weeks lost at building the summer body you were hoping for this year. But guess what, with a few simple techniques you can help avoid workout injuries and stay on the path to a fitter you.
Watch Your Form
It is incredibly important to know what you are doing when you workout. Every workout has a proper form. But there is a tendency to want to overachieve, especially in a class experience. If the person in front of you in yoga is bending over backwards in a move, don’t try to do the same unless you have been working on that same move as well. Or if you take a dance class and the person in front is high kicking above her head, know it’s okay if your foot is hardly off the ground.
The same goes for lifting weights. Use proper form so that you don’t put pressure on the wrong parts of your body and don’t forget to engage your muscles. For example, not using your stomach muscles as you lift your weights up could actually put undo pressure on your back causing it to have to work overtime. And guess what, even the way you walk or run can put stress on certain joints causing knee pain or foot pain. Be aware of what your form should look like. Check out pictures and ask others to take a look or even take a picture of you performing the exercise. There are right ways and wrong ways to exercise, make sure you are going about it the right way.
Take Some Time Off
Your body needs rest just like your mind needs rest after a long day at work. If you push yourself day after day to get fit, you will find that your body just can’t keep up with all the abuse and will eventually act up, usually with pain. So make sure when you schedule out your workout routine for the week, you take the time to add rest days. Adding rest days may seem counterintuitive, but your body will benefit from the break and it actually will fuel you with energy for the next day’s workout. Taking time off also means not focusing on the same exercise over and over. It’s important to change up your routine. If you are adding strength training, don’t just focus on your arms. Make sure you have days you work on your legs and your back, etc. If you are adding workout classes to your routine, maybe try a couple of classes, like yoga, spin, and dance. Each class will offer you a different way to work your body and your muscles without just focusing on one area or leading to boredom from doing the same thing. Taking time off from workouts and your usual routine can be the needed refresher to keep you motivated to workout while also keeping you free from injuries from overwork.
Go Slow and Listen to Your Body
The last piece of advice is to take your time with an exercise. Don’t rush through your workout just to be finished. This is where that bad form I mentioned above suddenly appears. And if you are rushing through your workout, you can’t pay attention to the things your body is saying. Your body is smart. It knows when something doesn’t feel right or when things are becoming a bit too intense. But it’s so easy to ignore those warning signs simply so that you can check exercise off the list or because you think there’s nothing to worry about.
Don’t rush through your workout just to be finished.
If you feel a pain or something uncomfortable in your body during the workout, stop. Ask yourself where that feeling is coming from. Is it just that you are challenging yourself to do something new and your body is reacting to the newness? Or are you feeling a tightness somewhere because you are pushing yourself too hard with the amount of weight or how far you can go in your flexibility? Or are you using one part of your body to make an exercise happen rather than another part of your body that should be the focus of the exercise? Your body is a well-balanced machine. It has the ability to work harmoniously together. But you have to be willing to listen to all the components in order to get the most out of what your body is capable of doing. The moment you stop listening is the moment you invite injury to come in.
If you aren’t careful, you will inevitably experience an injury at some point in your exercising. But avoiding injuries is such an important part of staying in good health, that it’s worth taking the time to really integrate these four points into your workouts. Be careful and treat your body with respect. You only have one body, so make it your best body!
Avoiding an injury is crucial to staying your healthiest and keeping on top of your fitness and weight loss goals. If paying attention to the health of your body is new for you, don’t worry! With time you will be an expert at knowing what you can and cannot do. Remember no one can know your body better than you do, so never be afraid to pull back if a friend, trainer, or fitness class is pushing you too far. It’s much better to play it safe than regret it later!
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